On Tuesday, the nation watched in horror as news broke of a vehicular terror attack near the World Trade Center. The public didn’t know it in the immediate aftermath of the attack, but the alleged driver of the truck that killed pedestrians and cyclists alike was an immigrant who came to the United States through the diversity visa lottery program.
But even before facts of the suspect’s origin were confirmed by authorities, President Donald Trump didn’t waste time in making political hay following the slaughter. The morning after the attack, Trump tweeted in favor of ending the visa lottery program in favor of a system that doles out green cards on the basis of merit, leading some experts to question whether such a solution would actually curb terror in the U.S.
Though any pundit can debate the efficacy of Trump’s favored solution, what is undeniable is that, following the New York City vehicular attack, Trump has actually proposed a legislative solution towards protecting Americans from violent mass casualty incidents. By Thursday, the president had called on Congress to immediately terminate the visa lottery program. By Friday, he’d described the suspect as a “degenerate animal.”
In this instance, it only took Trump two days to urge Washington to take action that would, to his mind, save lives. It’s been over a month since the Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest in modern American history, and the president has yet to propose any solution, large or small.
That doesn’t bode well for Americans looking to the president for answers following the mass shooting in a Texas church on Sunday that left at least 25 dead. Though the president has already responded to the shooting by affirming his support for Texas and sending his condolences to the victims’ families, he has not identified any set of policies as directly contributing to the attack, as he did with the October New York terror attack.
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, for which the public still has no idea what motivated the gunman to kill at least 58 people, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued it was “too soon” to talk about gun control.
“There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country,” she said, adding that gun control “won’t stop these types of things from happening.”
However, those standards did not seem to apply to conservative immigration reform following the New York attack. If the White House line against gun control is that it’s too narrow a solution for mass shootings, why isn’t the Trump administration holding conservative immigration reform to the same scrutiny? After all, ending the diversity visa lottery program would not have prevented another vehicular terror attack on American soil during Trump’s presidency: the Charlottesville, Virginia, killing of Heather Heyer, allegedly carried out by a U.S. citizen.
Rather than decry the racist violence that likely led to Heyer’s death in the same way he decried the suspect of the New York vehicular attack, Trump instead said that some neo-Nazis and white supremacists were “very fine people,” laying blame for her killing on “many sides.”
But many Americans aren’t looking for ideological consistency from the White House. They’re looking for answers that will keep them, their families and their loved ones alive. Until then, calling out the Trump administration’s apparent hypocrisies will have to do.